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Here are some important dates in the history of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière and the police ethics system in Quebec.

 

1987 

   

The Anthony Griffin Case

Anthony Griffin, a 19-year-old black man, tried to flee after being arrested by a Montreal Urban Community police officer named Allan Gosset. After calling Anthony Griffin to stop, Constable Gosset fires a shot that hits him in the head and kills him. The Commission des droits de la personne then decided to investigate "the allegations of discriminatory treatment and racist behavior towards visible and ethnic minorities by the police services as well as the causes of the tensions in the relations between these minorities and police forces".

     

 

1988

   

The Bellemare Report

The Comité d'enquête sur les relations entre les corps policiers et les minorités ethniques created by the Commission des droits de la personne was chaired by Me Jacques Bellemare. The Bellemare Report (entitled Les pratiques en matière d'enquêtes criminelles au sein des corps de police du Québec) highlighted that the population perceives that a system that leads police officers to judge each other is likely to lead to biases against citizen complainants. He therefore recommended that an independent system for processing complaints against police officers be created: the system of police ethics.

     

 

1990

   

The Act Respecting Police Organization

This law brings major changes regarding the processing of citizen complaints against police officers :

  • Entry into force of the Code of ethics of Quebec police officers, which aims to regulate police-citizen relations;
  • Creation of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière, who now receives complaints from the public rather than police forces and who deals with processing them;
  • Creation of the Comité de déontologie policière, an entity separate from the Commissaire à la déontologie policière, to rule and decide whether police officers have engaged in conduct that derogates from the Code of Ethics of Quebec Police Officers and to impose a sanction if this is the case;
  • Added mechanisms for reviewing the Commissaire à la déontologie policière's decisions and appealing the Comité de déontologie policière's decisions.
     

 

1996

   

The Corbo Report

The ministère de la Sécurité publique decides to carry out a review and revision of the functioning and mechanisms of the Quebec police ethics system after being advised of several related problems:

  • the cumbersomeness of the procedure and the sometimes very long delays given the nature of certain complaints;
  • the high number of decisions of the Comité de déontologie policière appealed;
  • the costs assumed by the various stakeholders, including the government and the municipalities, which must in all cases ensure the defense of their police officers.

The mandate was then given to Claude Corbo, former rector of the University of Quebec in Montreal and researcher in political science. The Corbo Report (entitled À la recherche d'un système de déontologie policière juste, efficient et frugal : rapport de l'examen des mécanismes et du fonctionnement du système de déontologie policière effectué à la demande du ministre de la Sécurité publique du Québec) issued various recommendations:

  • Make conciliation mandatory during the police ethics process;
  • Include in the law time limits for concluding an ethics investigation;
  • Expand the powers of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière to dismiss a complaint;
  • Abolish notice to suspects and police;
  • Maintain the right of appeal.
     

 

1997

   

Legislative Changes Following the Corbo Report

The Act to amend the Act respecting police organization and the Police Act with regard to police ethics is adopted, which retains several of the recommendations of the Corbo Report, including that of making conciliation mandatory during the police ethics process.

     

 

2000

   

Adoption of the Police Act

The Police Act, replacing the Police Act and the Police Organization Act, does not make any changes to the jurisdiction, powers and duties of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière. 

     

 

2009

   

Extension of the Extraterritorial Powers of Police Officers and the Application of the Code of Ethics of Quebec Police Officers

Amendments are made to the Police Act to allow police officers to be vested with extraterritorial powers and to determine the ethics regime applicable to them. Thus, under certain conditions, a police officer from another province or territory of Canada may perform duties in Quebec and a police officer from Quebec may perform their duties in another province or territory of Canada. In both cases, these people are subject to the Quebec Police Code of Ethics. However, no sanction may be imposed on a police officer from another province or territory of Canada. 

     

 

2021

   

Tabling of the Rapport final du comité consultatif sur la réalité policière

In 2019, the ministère de la Sécurité publique tabled the document Réalité policière au Québec : modernité, confiance et efficience. This publication offers an inventory that serves as a starting point and common basis for a desired reflection on the reality of Quebec policing. An advisory committee, made up of 5 people, has been set up to carry out this reflection. It heard organizations, stakeholders and citizens who wanted to share their thoughts on the reality of Quebec policing during consultations and public hearings. The advisory committee submitted its report in May 2021.

Here are the recommendations concerning the Commissaire à la déontologie policière or the police ethics regime:

  • Subject private security agents linked to a police service to the police ethics regime and to the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes.
  • Grant only those directly involved in an event the right to file an ethics complaint.
  • Introduce the possibility for a third party to report to the Commissaire à la déontologie policière a police intervention that they consider problematic.
  • Assign the Commissaire à la déontologie policière the responsibility of assessing the relevance of investigating on the basis of the report received.
  • Limit the conciliation process to cases resulting from a complaint filed by a person directly involved in the incident.
  • Limit the obligation to give reasons for the decision taken and the transmission of the resulting information to files resulting from a complaint.
  • Grant the Commissaire à la déontologie policière the power to undertake investigations on his own initiative.
  • Allow the Commissaire à la déontologie policière to open a single file in the event of multiple complaints about the same event.
  • Restrict the possibility of requesting a review of a decision rendered by the Commissaire à la déontologie policière to two situations: the Commissioner has not ruled on an allegation or the complainant raises new facts or elements.
  • Amend the appeal as of right provided for in the Police Act to make it an appeal with leave before the Court of Québec.
  • Increase the limitation period for filing a complaint or reporting an ethics incident from one year to two years from the date of the event.
  • Amend the Police Act to allow the verbal filing of a complaint or report with the support of the team of the Commissaire à la déontologie policière.
  • Add to article 5 of the Code of ethics of Quebec police officers the ground of gender identity or expression to the list of situations where offensive acts and remarks are to be prohibited on the part of the police.
  • Adding a remedial component to the current sanctions regime, in particular by allowing the Comité de déontologie policière to direct offending officers towards professional consultation, a treatment program or training, by ordering them to work under supervision for a specified period or again by imposing a community commitment.
  • Implement a police ethics prevention program.

 

 


 

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